At least the Braves have experience in win-or-blow-it games

Here's how it turned out last season. For reference purposes. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Here's how it turned out last season. For reference purposes. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Looking on the bright side — and even finding a bright side takes concentrated effort — there’s this: If any team in the history of baseball knows how to win the 162nd game of a season behind Tim Hudson after losing two to the Phillies and entering Game No. 162 tied for the wild card after blowing a massive lead … well, the Braves are that team. Because they did it last season.

And that’s it. That’s all I’ve got. Rating the collapses, this season’s is much worse than last’s. The 2010 Braves ran out of everyday players; the 2011 Braves have run low on starting pitchers. Last year’s team had a hard time scoring for a pretty good reason; this team has a hard time scoring for no good reason.

Last year’s Braves lost a seven-game division lead because the Phillies got hot and got healthy (and got Roy Oswalt) and blew past them. This team has lost an 8 1/2-game wild-card lead to St. Louis, which was hot but is only 3-3 over the past six days and needed 23 players, eight of them pitchers, to override a five-run deficit against the 100-loss Astros on Tuesday.

So: Here we go again. One more game on the schedule, one game to assure these Braves of playing at least one more game after this.

OK, what happens tonight?

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About the Cardinals: You’d have to think Chris Carpenter will win at Minute Maid Park tonight, but you’d have thought Carpenter would have beaten the Cubs on Friday and he could not. Carpenter was pulled after 93 pitchers for a pinch-hitter in a 1-1 game; the Cardinals yielded Alfonso Soriano’s winning three-run homer the next inning.

That Redbird loss pushed the Braves’ lead back to three games with five to play. They haven’t held it. Now they could face elimination if they don’t win tonight, but the way this stumbling chase is going they might lose to Philly and still get to play in St. Louis on Thursday. Indeed, for an hour or so Tuesday night it appeared the Braves — who trailed 7-0 — might take the wild card without actually winning another game. But the Cardinals rallied from 5-0 and 6-5 deficits, and here we are. Again.

Tim Hudson in the 162nd game. A team could do worse. For example: Derek Lowe in the 161st game — that was worse.

By Mark Bradley

355 comments Add your comment

Paul W

September 28th, 2011
8:01 am

Mark Bradley

September 28th, 2011
8:05 am

Kudos, Paul.

Fish Bisch

September 28th, 2011
8:05 am

Booyah

September 28th, 2011
8:09 am

Booyah says play Pastornicky and Constanza tonight – the other guys have done NOTHING!!!

RM

September 28th, 2011
8:10 am

I actually don’t even want them to make it now. It will just be a sweep and they’ll probably score a total of 2 runs the entire series. Turrible!

Perry

September 28th, 2011
8:10 am

When you can’t score runs, you can’t win. When pitchers get behind early and you can’t score, you lose. But maybe charlie m planned it this way. To try and force a playoff that way if it is st louis he faces, they will have to plan an extra game. We should score at least 3 runs against blanton but who knows with this anemic offense. Feel sorry for huddy having to pitch for such loser hitters.

Goldenrod

September 28th, 2011
8:12 am

Baseball is dead to me now and all that matters in the state of Georgia is the UNDEFEATED Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets! We run this state and refuse to lose!!!

Braves lose, Cardinals win, and Coach Paul Johnson’s Jackets keep on winning, especially against the mutts this November!

kennyg

September 28th, 2011
8:13 am

A good friend of mine and a huge Braves’ fan who never misses a game may need to be hospitalized if they lose tonight. This has been brutal. Reminds me of Torre’s team that lost something like 19 of 21 and still got in somehow.

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evan

September 28th, 2011
8:14 am

I go back and forth. This team doesn’t deserve to see the post season and will probably be knocked the f out by the first team they play. With that said, I’d still rather get swept in the first round of the playoffs than to not make it at all.

Go Braves?

Two face

September 28th, 2011
8:14 am

what would be a complete joke is for this team to wildly celebrate if they make the playoffs.

DawgInaTruck

September 28th, 2011
8:14 am

This is mind boggling. I never thought of this as a world championship team-good group of players but we have some holes-but I never dreamed we would be in this position.

The heck of it is, even if we make it we appear spent, the pitching staff is ravaged and we seemingly have forgotten how to hit. Baseball is a funny game sometimes but our situation is anything but.

Shug

September 28th, 2011
8:16 am

Forget this 8.5 lead cr*p, the Braves had a 10.5 game lead on the Cardinals on Aug. 25. This choke job is epic. Fortunately (or unfortunately) the national media is focused on the woes of their beloved Red Sox and is paying no mind to America’s Team.

Ryan's dad

September 28th, 2011
8:17 am

This is so sad! It was so exciting when we obtained Michael Bourne. The Bourne/ Constanza combo was so great to watch. “Speed never slumps” (unless you put it on the bench where it cannot do anything.) I almost cringe when I see us put someone in scoring position with no outs because you can almost taste the failure. How good could we be if we somehow limp into the playoffs?

ChopAttack

September 28th, 2011
8:17 am

Put us out of our misery. This team doesn’t have the pitching to do anything in the playoffs and the offense… you get the picture.

Derek Lowes Sux

September 28th, 2011
8:18 am

Derek lowe needs to retire and give back his money. What a pathetic ex cuse for a pitcher.

Freddie should be fired for continuing to pitch this tomato can every 5th start.

NCBravesFan

September 28th, 2011
8:21 am

I’m normally a pretty optimistic type of fellow, but this Braves team has a different feel to me. I think there will be no October baseball in ATL this year.

Peter

September 28th, 2011
8:22 am

Please tell me Hayward is a everyday player ?

teamguy

September 28th, 2011
8:23 am

Ryan’s dad said it all. . .we have speed on the bench that should be used. Of course, we also have a Bobby Cox clone running the show who wants to wait on the three run homer, rather than manufacturing runs. The sad thing is, we’ll probably have this same show for the next three years. This team is about as exciting as a katawba worm race.

Darryl Blackberry

September 28th, 2011
8:26 am

I don’t think we’ll know the whole story of this season until after it’s over. There must, MUST be a good reason why J-Hey played all those games instead of Constanza. Was Georgie hurt? Did he have an attitude problem? There MUST be a good reason why Michael Bourn went from base-stealing threat to a guy who doesn’t even show bunt. Was he pissed about being traded from his beloved Astros? Was he pressing too much after the trade? There MUST be a good reason why Fredi let D-Lowe make this last, crucial start, even though his mechanics were admittedly screwy. Was there a mandate from Frank Wren? Did Derek lie to the skipper and say that all was well in the bullpen, lemme at ‘em, etc.?

None of this makes any sense to me. My guess is that the Braves will have a one-game playoff in St. Louis. My guess is something inexplicable will happen in that game that will cost the Braves a postseason berth. It’s just par for the course this season.

I pray I’m wrong.

I got gout

September 28th, 2011
8:28 am

I just cant watch anymore.
It hurts too much.

T-Bone

September 28th, 2011
8:29 am

Time to start planning for next year. Mark, whose salaries fall off the ledger next year? Lowe? Kawakami? How much money do they have to spend in the off-season? What should be the priority? A strong, experienced starting pitcher since our starting rotation fell to injury? Do we even trade one of the young guns for a proven arm? How about a big bat for the outfield–move Prado to short, and put that big bat in left? What’s the prognosis on Heyward? Which year is the real Heyward, this year or last?

Craig Skok

September 28th, 2011
8:29 am

Lowe’s contract was two years too long. He should retire,but is not honorable enough to leave the money on the table.

Ryan's dad

September 28th, 2011
8:29 am

When watching our team, the announcers state over and over about how long the season is. Truth is: other teams look fresh when playing us . For the second year in a row we have played fall baseball like a wounded batallion, and even the uninjured swing the bats like they are made of lead. I remember in the Glavine-Maddux days when our entire pitching rotation made it through several seasons without ever missing a start from injury. Why are we so much more tired-looking from the 162 games than the teams we are playing?

steve brown

September 28th, 2011
8:30 am

There is Julio Teheran, I thought he had been kidnapped.

Jamaaliver

September 28th, 2011
8:31 am

Mark Bradley,

Where’s my weekly Heat Check, bro?

Team is an Embarassment

September 28th, 2011
8:31 am

This team has been losing since Spring Training, so why should it be any surprise now. I hope they lose and go home. I don’t want the embarassment of them being swept. D. Lowe sucks and should be the first player let go – where are all those people who were talking about his September leadership – leading directly to the toilet because that is where these Bravos are and exactly what they are worth a bowl full of crap and pee.

Darryl Blackberry

September 28th, 2011
8:32 am

I think the difference between now and the Braves’ heyday is the fact that our starting staff is either very old or very young, depending on the starter that night. The entire staff gets worn out this way, especially the ‘pen. As for the hitting, I know it’s cliched, but I’m going to blame the hitting coach on this one. There were just too many good hitters who struggled mightily this season.

fuzzybee

September 28th, 2011
8:33 am

The little plastic thermometer has popped on this turkey. The Braves are DONE!

I have been a supporter of Gonzalez all season as he tried out things to see what would work. Now I fault him for not recognizing the things that did work such as Constanza on the basepads and some lineup shuffles. Instead of going back to the winners, he keeps trotting out the same losing lineup and Derek Lowe time after time. Hello Fredi, it ain’t working. Time to try something different.

motor

September 28th, 2011
8:34 am

Baseball eliminated uppers from the game. Too bad No-Doze was too. I dont think they can even drink Red Bull.

brad

September 28th, 2011
8:34 am

The Braves organization has never recovered from blowing the 6-0 lead in game 3 of the 96 Series.

Him Tudson

September 28th, 2011
8:35 am

Hmm, I think the difference between now and the Braves’ heyday is the fact that our starting staff is either very old or very young, depending on the starter that night. The entire staff gets worn out this way, especially the ‘pen. As for the hitting, I know it’s cliched, but I’m going to blame the hitting coach on this one. There were just too many good hitters who struggled mightily this season.

Mark

September 28th, 2011
8:35 am

We thought Freddi was going to be a little more run and gun, with some run-producing offense. But he’s the same as Cox, sit and wait for the big inning and play the veterans, regardless how poorly they are playing. Sending Lowe out Tuesday night was pure surrender! Seeing player after player watch a called strike three time after time is really depressing – and it’s only gotten worse as the month has gone on. Even Hinske just watches the ball down the middle – horrible. No fight, no fire and no chance.

Dazed&Confused

September 28th, 2011
8:36 am

Is it just me – every time the camera shows Charlie Manual, he doesn’t seem to be paying attention or interested in what is going on between the lines. . This alone should piss the Braves and spur on a fight.. Lowe should have knocked down someone in the first inning last night.
They are so lifeless it is very pathetic. The Cards last night saw the score and said – “let’s get it done”. Braves saw the scoreboard and said “aw shucks we’re done”…. Not fair to the fans.

jw

September 28th, 2011
8:38 am

Let’s throw caution to the wind tonight and really goof up the line-up – let Hudson lead off – another magic homer could really light up the place – and get the offense cranked up! Time for our speed to do some bunting and create some noise – then we go nuts.

It’s like we forgot how to play “BRAVES BASEBALL” – when we got Bourne and did the lineup switching with George and had all that speed going, it loosened up the team – how about looking at some August footage and let’s play August baseball, not anymore September baseball – in an all or nothing game, gotta go nuts!!!!

Send someone to get lost on the perimeter getting to the park today – set the press box on fire – do something! Put the putting green back in – drag the World Series trophy around the parking lot (oops, wrong team) – free admission – something!

Good Luck and let’s have some October baseball!

Go Braves – we are behind you guys all the way!

Mark

September 28th, 2011
8:38 am

This is like NASCAR – just waiting for the big wreck. And it’s coming, believe me!

motor

September 28th, 2011
8:39 am

Jeez, I forgot about the 6-0 lead Game 3 of ‘96.
Now thats brutal & bitter.
Okay, this year second worst collapseof all time.
Cursed.

Sonny Clusters

September 28th, 2011
8:40 am

We was reflecting on the game last night, and we decided this is the same Braves we was used to, only they failed a week early. Bobby Cox teams would lose in the first round. Fredi’s team loses on the way to the first round. Bobby had more experience losing. Fredi will catch him as long as he has players like Chipper going balls to the wall like he does. Nobody else in baseball goes balls to the wall like that. This team is so bad we aren’t sure Stinky Wintes could do ‘em any good.

Michael

September 28th, 2011
8:40 am

This isn’t just “fire the manager” bad. This is “please leave town and find another city” bad. Charlotte or Raleigh would do, but I’d rather they moved further away.

DC

September 28th, 2011
8:40 am

MB is waiting till the season is over to do a heat check..im sure there will be more puns and witty comments to use after that….

I agree with one of the posters…why was Constanza pulled and benched after the phillies series couple weeks back….yeah he didn’t do well in 2 games against them..big deal…he should have pulled the entire squad if that was the case. Rhythm was destroyed with that move…

Also, why would he put all his eggs in the D lowe basket..he doesnt have it this year!

Can we please make Fredi do a breathalyzer test before doing his lineup card!

With that being said, my boy Huddy will be on the mound and I will cheer him on to do the job. War Eagle and go braves!

dean

September 28th, 2011
8:40 am

Look at the bright side. Our team is not named Cubs. This collapse is certainly like something that would happen to the Cubs. But the Braves aren’t the Cubs with a billy goat curse.

motor

September 28th, 2011
8:41 am

We’ve already had the crash. Now can we get out of the car before we die by flames.

mikeDW

September 28th, 2011
8:42 am

I liked Fredi, but this is his fault. Why is Costanza not in? I quit watching when he quit playing.

Sonny Clusters

September 28th, 2011
8:42 am

The early morning filter is working and it’s chewing up a Clusters post right now.

BulldogBen

September 28th, 2011
8:43 am

It’s over. I don’t even want them to win tonight. Why? So they can get embarassed further?

Loserville, USA.

Falcons blow best chance at a Super Bowl and Braves have worst collapse in franchise history. IN THE SAME YEAR.

There is some serious bad juju hanging over this town.

gg

September 28th, 2011
8:43 am

Good teams can ride a three-game lead all year. This Braves team couldn’t ride it for FOUR DAYS!

I know they’re trying, but every single player on this team is out of gas. Not a single one has a spark of life. Never seen anything like this!

Baffled

September 28th, 2011
8:44 am

Prado batting when the game meant something, in one of the most crucial games of the year, and he does not even know what the count is. Why, why, why is this guy even playing, much less batting second.

Dad of Three

September 28th, 2011
8:44 am

In the words of Bob Uecker. “Who the hell cares. Nobody’s listening.”

15 Consecutive...Lifetime Ago

September 28th, 2011
8:46 am

I honestly don’t even want them to make the playoffs now. I mean does it really matter. The pitching isn’t there, the hitting isn’t there. The DRIVE isn’t there. Of course they spit out a couple soundbites on the interviews but that’s the stuff they are suppose to say. They know deep down, especially with the way they are playing now, that they don’t stand a chance in the postseason. They obviously can’t beat the Phillies, so what’s the point. Even with a play in game, they can’t beat the Cards either…5-1 on the regular season against em. The Braves are toast…but it’s typical. They usually fold this time of year anyway…as we’ve said so much the past few years…Maybe next year…maybe next year they’ll spend some money and get a high profile bat, or maybe Chipper will hang it up (finally) and be the batting coach, or maybe, just maybe the Braves can find the magic of the Tomahawk Chop of the 90’s…Maybe…Maybe Not…

Mark Bradley

September 28th, 2011
8:47 am

The 6-0 lead was in Game 4 of the 1996 World Series. The Yankees won Game 3 by the count of 5-2.